Colombia considers second-hand Eurofighters | Raytheon completes SBD-II Lot 1 production | Martin Baker to provide ejector seats for Taiwanese AJT
- According to a story originally reported in the Spanish-language news website, Defensa, the Colombian Air Force is currently evaluating a series of options that will boost its fighter-interceptor fleet capabilities. The main option involves procuring about a fighter wing’s worth of second-hand, Trance 2 standard Eurofighter Typhoons from Spain, equipped with the advanced Meteor missile. If the deal was to go ahead, Colombia would become the first operator of the Typhoon in the region, and the aircraft itself would be one of the most advanced fighters in South America, comparable only to the future Brazilian Saab JAS-39E/F fleet. Other (mostly second-hand) options being considered by Bogota include both Dassault Aviation’s Mirage 2000 and Rafale fighter, the American Lockheed-Martin F-16 and Boeing F/A-18, the Swedish Saab JAS-39 Gripen, and even the Russian Sukhoi Su-30.
- Lot 1 production of the Small Diameter Bomb-II, an update to Boeing’s SDB-I, has been completed by Raytheon. The firm said it is producing SDB-II bombs at its facilities in Tucson, Ariz., and that the program is nearing completion of developmental testing. The US Air Force has also contracted Raytheon to produce Lots 2 and 3, and the munition is scheduled to be integrated on the F-35 and F/A-18E/F by the USAF and Navy, and Raytheon is expected to have it prepared for integration with the F-15E by the end of the year.
- Lockheed Martin, in conjunction with a US Air Force B-1B bomber crew, fired two production-configuration Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASM) simultaneously during a test at Point Mugu’s sea range. The two missiles were launched against multiple maritime targets and successfully met all primary test objectives, including target impact. The missile is based on the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, and employs advanced technologies that reduce dependence on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, network links and GPS navigation in electronic warfare environments, allowing the LRASM to detect and destroy specific targets within groups of ships.
Middle East & Africa
- Raytheon has been awarded a $302 million US Navy contract modification to produce and deliver 618 AGM-154 Block III C Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) air-to-ground missiles for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. First cleared to purchase the weapon in 2013, Saudi Arabia will also receive, containers, component parts, support equipment and engineering technical assistance in addition to the missiles. Just over one-third of the contract will be performed at Raytheon’s operation in Tucson, Ariz., with the rest completed in other locations in the United States, Wales and Scotland. Work is scheduled to be completed by June 2022.
- Eurofighter partner companies are on track to start Typhoon fleet deliveries to Kuwait from 2019. According to the consortium, “Production activities have begun in order to comply with the contract and the Customer expectations,” adding that “activities to establish infrastructures in Kuwait to operate the aircraft are also proceeding according to the plans.” Italy’s Leonardo is lead partner in the sale, which calls for 28 Eurofighters, including six two-seat trainers, with all aircraft equipped with the consortium’s Captor-E active electronically scanned array radar, Lockheed Martin Sniper targeting pod, plus precision-guided weapons including MBDA’s Brimstone air-to-surface missile and Storm Shadow cruise missile. Detailing of the program’s status comes during the annual Gulf Defence & Aerospace exhibition in Kuwait, which ran from December 12-14.
- BAE Systems announced Wednesday the completion of the first phase of flight trials of the MAGMA small scale unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Designed and tested in conjunction with the University of Manchester, the UAV will use a unique blown-air system to manoeuvre the aircraft and utilizes wing circulation control, which uses air from the aircraft engine and blows it supersonically through the trailing edge of the wing, to provide control for the aircraft and fluidic thrust vectoring for change of direction. It is hoped that this work will pave the way for future stealthier aircraft designs. BAE said additional technologies to improve the performance of the UAV are being explored in collaboration with the University of Arizona and NATO Science and Technology Organization.
- Having recently completed an upgrade program on Colombian Air Force Kfir fighters, an IAI official told IHS Janes that the company is in talks with the Sri Lankan government to upgrade and return to service its own five grounded Kfir fighters. While no further details on the negotiations have been given, IAI have been offering operators of the aircraft substantial upgrades such as 4.5 Generation avionics—making the Kfir’s capabilities comparable to the F-16 Block 52—as well as guaranteed maintenance support. Sri Lanka is currently looking to replace its ageing fleet of Israeli Kfirs and MiG-27s with a new generation of high technology aircraft to replenish Sri Lanka’s air defense capability. The current front runner is Pakistan with the JF-17 Thunder.
- Taiwan’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corp (AIDC) has signed an agreement with Martin-Baker for the provision of ejection seats for AIDC’s advanced jet trainer (AJT). Signed in London, UK, on December 13, AIDC said in a statement that the “contract between AIDC and Martin-Baker facilitates cooperation opportunities and is a major milestone in the launch of AJT systems,” adding both “parties will work together, not only to achieve the goal of making the AJT program successful, but also to extend future collaboration in areas such as ejection seats, pilot personal equipment, parachutes”. No financial details on the agreement were given. AIDC have been commissioned by the Taiwanese government to design and built 66 AJTs, with the first prototype expected to begin flight trails in 2020. Delivery of the operational aircraft will start to replace Taiwan’s AT-3 trainer aircraft and F-5 jets from 2026.
- Lockheed Martin’s recent LRASM test:
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